Foreign Minister Maas opened an international conference on the Lake Chad region in Berlin and appealed for solidarity with the suffering people there.
The Lake Chad region, where the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon converge, is the scene of one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.
Once a crucial interface between the Sahara and the southern part of Africa, the Lake Chad region now faces many major challenges, including famine, violence, drought and displacement.
For eight years, the Islamist Boko Haram group has been terrorising the population: over 30,000 people have been killed and more than 2.3 million men, women and children displaced. Even though the four countries’ armed forces, working together, have largely succeeded in driving the terrorists back, an important partial victory, kidnappings and suicide attacks continue to threaten people’s lives on a daily basis. The humanitarian situation remains critical – more than ten million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Yet this is not all: in addition to Boko Haram, other terrorist groups, such as the so-called Islamic State, and organised crime are destabilising the region, thus also making it a trouble spot with regard to Europe’s security.
Germany is helping the people in the Lake Chad region – over the last two years alone it has earmarked more than 150 million euros for humanitarian assistance.
Furthermore, Germany is promoting cross-border cooperation in the region. This includes a meeting of the governors from all four countries in Nigeria in May to promote cooperation at all government levels. In September 2017, government representatives from the Lake Chad region gathered in Berlin to meet international partners.
The governments of Germany, Nigeria and Norway and the United Nations have jointly organised the 2018 conference, which is being attended by more than 50 delegations from governments, regional and international organisations and civil society representatives.
Together, the conference participants aim to dovetail humanitarian assistance and efforts to promote stabilisation and development cooperation in the Lake Chad region even more effectively and support initiatives from Africa.
Last Friday (31 August), Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, under the aegis of the African Union and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, adopted a stabilisation strategy. An African initiative worthy of support.